A NEW exhibition featuring many of the iconic pieces from the Traprain Treasure, found on Traprain Law a century ago, opens in Haddington this weekend.

The Traprain Treasure is the largest hoard of late Roman ‘hacksilver’ found anywhere in Europe.

It consists of fragments from more than 250 silver objects that had been cut into set weights of bullion and sent north from the Roman world, probably as a diplomatic gift.

They were found buried in a pit within a hill fort during an archaeological excavation.

The Treasures from the Hoard exhibition takes place at the John Gray Centre and features real and replica objects.

A programme of talks and events are planned to mark the centenary, both in East Lothian and at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

The exhibition, the first time the internationally significant Roman silver can be seen in East Lothian since its discovery in 1919, is curated by Dr Claire Pannell of East Lothian Council Museums Service, with assistance from Dr Fraser Hunter of National Museums Scotland.

Provost John McMillan, ward member, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have some of the pieces from this collection available for the exhibition during the centenary year of the amazing discovery.

“I am sure both local residents and visitors alike will be fascinated by the story of the discovery and also the history of the hoard.”

The hoard was buried more than 1,500 years ago, around AD 450.

When first found, it was thought that barbarians had stolen the ‘loot’ from retreating Romans.

However, following extensive research by Dr Hunter into other hacksilver hoards across Europe, it was more likely cut up within the Roman world at times of economic crisis, when precious metal was valued as bullion rather than as fancy vessels.

It was then sent north as diplomatic gifts (or payment for military assistance) to the powerful leaders on Traprain Law as a way of buying their support and keeping the Roman frontier secure.

This silver was intended for the melting pot – Roman silver bullion was melted down and made into the first ever items of Scottish silver jewellery, with examples of this from the Traprain Law settlement itself.

Dr Hunter’s research into the hoard will be published in a new book, The Late Roman Silver Treasure from Traprain Law, due out this summer.

He said: “I’m sure the Traprain Treasure will dazzle those who see it.”

The Treasures from the Hoard exhibition runs until October 27.